Don’t break the lead

Saturday January 29, 2005

A lousy start to the day, with at least three hours lost to a bad diuretic reaction. I’m used to it, and have learned to live with it, but I still find it hard to reconcile myself to the intrusion upon and the waste of my time.

And, try as I may, I can’t find much humour in the situation any more. I used to laugh it off, refering to it as a “bad drip,” but the joke has worn thin over the years, to the extent that now the whole thing is no more than a boring interruption to my daily life.

It’s a particular nuisance just now, seeming to happen two or three times a week. I’m adjusting my diet but it may be time to go nag the doctor for a change of medication.

So, anyway, that clouded the day. Not that it was much of a day—dull, drizzly and in that uncomfortable place on the thermometer that’s neither cold nor mild.

We drove over the fens to make a quick pass through the DIY store and supermarket, passing the driving time by talking about sunny places we know.

“I wonder what it’s like in Heraklion right now,” Graham said.

“Nice enough, probably. We could check it on the Internet if we were in a WIFI hotspot.”

“You don’t get many WIFI hotspots out here in the sticks.”

“No. True. Mind you, I’m not sure you get much in the way of WIFI in Heraklion, either.”

“Probably not. We could check it if…”

“Yeah, I know,” I laughed. “if we were in a WIFI hotspot.”

When we got home, took our lunch, and I’d had a nap, I went off surfing the ‘net to Heraklion. I found the temperature for the day had run from a minimum of 50°F/10°C to a maximum of 68°F/20°C, with no rain, and only hazy sunshine. Much as I’d thought, and rather more comfortable than the Lincolnshire Fens.

To my pleasant surprise, Heraklion seems to be rather well served with WIFI hotspots and networks. I ought not to be surprised, of course, the capital city of Crete is a vibrant place, and the people full of enterprise as well as laughter.

And so, much cheered at the thought of Lion Square on a mild-ish Cretan evening, sipping Demestica and munching on a bowl of late-season olives, I pulled out my watercolour pad and splashed some colour around to fill the time before dinner.

Unusually, the brush and paper simply wouldn’t work for me, with washes sticking or just going dull, spoiling good paper. Only half spoiled, of course, because I’m mean enough to keep my failures, turn them over, and paint on the back. And if that still doesn’t work, reach for the gouache and cover the mess over with something comfortably opaque. I do my best to get maximum use out of a piece of decent paper, having been inspired to do so by the story of some past British Prime Minister of the Gladstone era who instructed the Civil Service to write on both sides of the paper they used, thus halving the Civil Service stationery bill at a stroke.

Despairing, I took to making some drawings in my new 2005 sketch book with a pen I bought in Boston the other day. First time of use. And the last, like as not. It’s filled with some water-soluble ink or other, and runs as soon as a wash touches it. With the right approach and a suitably positive attitude, this be made to work creatively.

Today, sadly, I found myself to be short on the right approach and almost completely out of positive attitude. I put the pen back in my box with a mental note to try it again one day when I’m feeling adventurous, and took up a pencil instead. You can’t really go wrong with a pencil. Just so long as you don’t break the lead.

Pen and wash from my 2005 sketch book
Drippy sketch



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